Godolphin recruit De Sousa as potential heir to Dettori
Two fairly momentous new chapters open on the Turf today. On the home front, an amended penalty structure is introduced ahead of the latest, dizzying revision to the whip rules. In Dubai, meanwhile, Silvestre De Sousa rides for Godolphin for the first time since accepting a post that accelerates his giddy rise through the ranks.
Judging from the fact that Frankie Dettori and Mickael Barzalona partner the two fillies saddled by Mahmood Al Zarooni in the UAE Oaks, De Sousa will be slotting into a role that reflects the sheer numbers on the Godolphin roster – just as Al Zarooni, formerly assistant to Saeed Bin Suroor, was appointed to supervise a string in his own name two years ago.
The recruitment of De Sousa, who will be riding for both trainers, certainly elevates him above the likes of Ahmed Ajtebi and Ted Durcan. But the Brazilian, though 31, has only made his breakthrough over the past couple of seasons and duly remains short of experience in big races. The same holds true, for very different reasons, of Barzalona – just 19 when he won the Derby last year – and there is now intriguing competition to stake a claim as eventual heir to Dettori, who has turned 42 since last season.
Mark Johnston, who supplied De Sousa with 70 winners as runner-up in the jockeys' championship last season, admits he will miss the rider's dynamic assistance. "I am sorry to see him go, but there's no question he's making the right decision," the trainer said. "I said to him that rather than becoming champion jockey, it was far more important to get opportunities in top races, in order to be recognised as one of the top jockeys. I have no doubt he is capable of doing that."
As for the whip saga, the British Horseracing Authority yesterday sought to reassure the RSPCA after a furious response to its latest climbdown on controversial new rules introduced last autumn. The RSPCA's respected equine consultant, David Muir, has described Tuesday's decision to increase stewards' powers of discretion as "absolutely staggering" and "a backward step".
The BHA stressed the changes would only have a marginal effect but even jockeys, broadly relieved as they are, admit some disquiet. "With the rules as they were, you knew where you stood with the amount of times you could use the whip," the Grand National-winning Jason Maguire said. "They are now giving the stewards more discretion, but stewards at one course will have different ideas to those at another."
Chris McGrath's Nap
Time To Think (3.50 Lingfield) The form of her Plumpton success last month has proved very strong for the grade.
Colour Guard (4.10 Southwell) Looks feasibly treated against exposed rivals.
One to watch
Buck Magic (Kieran Burke) Travelled sweetly until tiring when third on his return from a long absence at Wincanton on Saturday.
Where the money's going
Salut Flo is 10-1 from 20-1 with William Hill for the Byrne Group Plate at Cheltenham next month.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United have two days to seal the transfer of the summer, Arsenal need to panic, Jose Mourinho right to blast Chelsea reluctance
Charlie Austin latest: Tottenham, Bournemouth and Newcastle among favourites to sign QPR striker
Anthony Martial transfer: Martial arts not in doubt but £36m is huge gamble by Manchester United
David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal does not get the luxury of time that was given to his predecessors
- 3 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
£30 - 38k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a digitally focussed Account Man...
£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this digital ...
£16500 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity exists ...